17 June 2013

Sweetly - Jackson Pearce

Hansel and Gretel gets a teen makeover in Jackson Pearce's Sweetly, the second book of her fairytale retellings. Gretchen and Ansel have just been kicked out of the house by their stepmother and are road-tripping it across the state when they break down in Live Oak. They end up doing odd jobs for the town's Chocolatier, Sophia Kelly, and before they know it, they're living in her shop. Live Oak residents. But Sophia hides dark secrets, and Gretchen knows it has something to do with the eight missing Live Oak girls. Will she be able to figure it all out before more girls disappear?

This book has some great ideas; missing girls, witches, a lovely young woman who everyone either despises or loves, a ghost town and a chocolate shop in the middle of the woods. It all flows together seamlessly into an intriguing and thoroughly readable plot. The mystery, the sense of 'I just want to know what's going on!' is intense, but sadly you can figure out most of the plot as the book goes along, before the big reveal. Being fair though, this is a book for Young Adults, and being 22, I don't really think I fit the bill. I am sure that teenagers will love this story and it will keep them guessing, but for me the end was inevitable and the reveal came a little too late.

However, character-wise, it really gave you a lot of humanity. Gretchen, our first-person narrator, took us through a wonderful character arc. Her fears had a real background, and her friendship with Samuel was quite touching. Sophia, ever the enigma, was confusing, interesting and yet you were never sure who she was, what she really felt until right at the end. The way the characters were drawn was therefore very well executed. They had many layers, and were quite well-rounded as people, each with their own flaws.

The book was short (is 'short and sweet' too much of a cliche?) and was a quick read. It was devoured (sorry for the puns, they keep coming out) in just two days, despite being fairly put-downable. However, it was a nice read; something easy and enjoyable. Some YA is great for adults, but not this one. Teens with a penchant for fairy tales will love it. It wasn't weak, but it wasn't striking in the way that Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are. I guess that's fairy tales for you. 5 out of 10. Nice cover too:

Image from readnowsleeplater.com
Sweetly is the second companion book of Jackson Pearce's fairytale retellings, for the first, Sisters Red, please visit http://jackson-pearce.com/sisters-red/. She has also written a retelling of The Little Mermaid called Fathomless, and The Snow Queen, called Cold Spell.